Roland Deschain, who one day would become the fateful and cold Gunslinger, was 14 years old when he took his test for his manhood by confronting his teacher Cort. Roland took the test two years younger than his father Steven had been, and a full two years before he was expected to. This had all been a plan from the evil wizard Marten Broadcloak (later known as the Man in Black, Walter O'Dim, and the Walking Man), adviser to Roland's father and also working for John Farson aka "The Good Man".
Broadcloak seduced Roland's mother, Gabrielle Deschain, and made sure Roland new of it, provoking the younger man's anger. In doing so, he hoped the boy would fail his test and go West, to exile, where all boys who could not prove themselves were sent. Roland passed his test of manhood by sacrificing his loyal hawk David, an unexpected "weapon" that caught his trainer off guard. It was the first of many sacrifices he would make. Roland left the test and went to confront Marten, hoping to get revenge for the disrespect .
His father and Cort both tried to convince him that would be foolish, Roland didn't care. That was when his father came to him and reminded him that he had "forgotten his face and by forgetting one's father face, he dishonored him." The young Gunslinger took his first guns and he went down Gilead's lower town and slept with a cheap prostitute, thus completing his "trial of manhood."
Marten Broadcloak is trying to rid Roland of Gilead because he has seen the future and Roland's destiny is to stand in the Dark Tower. He wanted to be rid of the naive young Gunslinger because he could cause a terrible rip in his plans and those of his Master. That is why Marten wanted the line of Gunslingers to end with a young Roland. Instead he all but he orchestrated the entire future of this powerful man.
After the fall of Gilead, Marten would run for his life from the Gunslinger. Later, during the events of The Dark Tower, Roland caught up with him and they had a "palaver" where Marten told the Gunslinger his story. Roland learns that Marten is one life of a quasi-immortal wizard that is capable of manifesting in different forms. His names are many; Walter of the All-World, Walter o'Dim, the Walkin' Dude, Ageless Stranger, Walter Padick, "He who walks between the rows", or as we later get to know him as, Randall Flagg.
Major Story arcs
The Gunslinger Born
Upon his first mission as a Gunslinger, Roland travels to the town of Hambry along with his Ka-tet and close personal friends Cuthbert Allgood and Alain Johns. He is sent there by his father, Steven Deschain, king of Gilead, on a diplomat mission, in order to learn more about possible uprising against his father the king, and the city where he lives, Gilead. A long road follows, with the three friends experiencing more about the world outside of the walls of Gilead.
When the Ka-tet finally arrive in Hambry, Roland slowly falls in love with Susan Delgado, a young girl whose father has passed away. She had been selected, against her will, to become the second wife of the mayor of the town, a man roughly 30 years older then her. This because the mayor's current wife is unable to bear him a child. While Cuthbert and Alain try to find out more about possible uprising against Gilead, Roland, in the heat of the moment, sleeps with Susan, impregnating her. Soon after, Alain and Guthbert notice that their arrival has been noticed. Large numbers of people are angry and resentful towards Gilead and their king. They soon come into contact with a group known as the Big Coffin Hunters, led by Eldred Jonas, an exiled Gunslinger. The situation soon takes a turn for the worse, as the town finds out Roland's affair with Susan Delgado and the mission of the Ka-tet. A fight erupts. Roland has to leave Susan behind, safe in her home. However, during the fight Roland and his Ka-tet are in, Susan is killed by the townspeople for breaking the oath to the Mayor and becoming a witch. After the fight, (where Eldred Jonas is killed) Roland witness her death at the hands of the townspeople through one of "Maerlyn's Grapefruits". One of a special set of artifacts, this one being pink and shows the future of the holder. In this mystic object, Roland can see his future and his destiny with the Dark Tower. From that moment, Roland the boy died. Filled with grief over Susan, his one true love, he and his Ka-tet fled from the forces of the Big Coffin Hunters. He was reborn as a hunter. A machine without a heart and no choice to go back from being the Gunslinger.
The Long Road Home
Right after their fight against the Big Coffin Hunters (in which their leader, Eldred Jonas was killed) Roland and his Ka-tet; Cuthbert and Alain flee from the still living members of the group. While in hot pursuit they manage to get across a bridge, which they destroy after they went over it, giving them valuable time and delaying their pursuers. Not soon after, Roland pick's up an artifact. A strange red globe, called "Merlin's Grape". While Cuthbert and Alain are resting, Roland stares into the strange globe and immediately loses consciousness. He finds himself transported into a strange desert-like world. All is red, and the only thing living creature is a strange talking crow. He eventually brings Roland to the fearsome The Crimson King, a creature that spells certain doom for Roland. Meanwhile, Back in the real world, Alain and Cuthbert find Roland unconscious. Nothing seemed to help, and the only thing they can do is bring him along, on one of their own horses. So, while Alain and Cuthbert flee for their lives against the Coffin Hunters, Roland is battling for his live on a different scale against the Crimson King. The two however manage to return to Gilead, with their friend Roland lying unconscious on their horses. All seemed safe once again in Mid-World.
Not soon after Roland's Ka-tet returned to Gilead, Roland's spirit returned to his body. He and his friends told his father all about the information they gathered, the seeming uprising led by the man named John Farson and the treachery of the King's wife whom had an affair with his Magician, Marten Broadcloak. The latter even seemed to be working with the Crimson King. Roland found that out during his journey in Maerlyn's Grapefruit. It seemed dark clouds where hanging over Gilead and nothing was further from the truth. While Roland's mother was in exile, trying to make amends for her affair with Marten, (and with that, the betrayal of her husband and king) the rest of Gilead was preparing for a celebration for the return of Roland and his Ka-tet. During this time, a spy of Farson had also entered they city. Meanwhile, the stolen artifact, Maerlyn's Grapfruit was put in a safe in the King's chamber. When Roland's mother returned from her exile, all seemed well. However, nobody knew that Marten had instructed Roland's mother to steal the Grapfruit back, and that Marten had convinced her to kill her own husband. She was given a knife by Farson's spy, to be used as the murder weapon. She however pretended that everything was alright, even danced with her husband, during the party. She excused herself after some time and walked up to the chamber of her husband in order to try and find the Grapefruit. Roland saw his mother walk away, and soon found her behavior very strange. He tried following her but lost her track. In the meantime, the Farson's spy thought that nobody noticed him and that he could set of a murder weapon through a riddle text. However, Cort, the weapon master and trainer of Gunslingers, was on to the foul man and killed him before he could bring harm to Gilead. Looking for his mother, Roland entered the chamber of his father and mother, deserted, and the Grapefruit missing. He found the Grapefruit in his mother's quarters, lying on it's bed. He came into contact with the Grapefruit once more, bringing him again back to the reality of the Crimson King. He saw Rhea of the Coos slipping in silently into the castle, making her way towards him. There Rhea charged at him, seemingly looking for the kill. Roland didn't think twice, grabbed his guns and shot Rhea. However, not soon after Roland's visions faded away and he was back in the Castle chamber of his parents. There he saw someone standing in front of him, blood everywhere, but it was not Rhea. It was Roland's own mother. She fell down to the ground, ending her life with the sentence "Roland, I love thee".
Fall of Gilead
Left with his mother’s blood on his hands it wasn’t long before word spread Roland murdered his mother, the queen. His father Steven was force to put Roland in a cell and conduct a investigation. Through the investigation it looked more and more Steven’s wife meant to kill him. However the Campaign against Farson the Good Man had already taken a turn for the worst. Surrounded by traitors who were leading Gilead's remaining Gunslingers into ambushes or assassinations. Cort himself was investigating the Spy’s room till he became poisoned by one of Marten’s books that was found hidden. Traitorous guards then kill Vanny, Alain’s father, and Steven himself in a murderous rampage. However Steven was able to kill his attacker and leave Roland a map of the ancient built in defenses of the castle which Roland found after he was released due to the present circumstances.
With his father dead, Roland was made Dihn of Gilead and led what was left in the defense of the Castle. Even though he made a dent against the vast army of Farson, Roland was force to retreat into the catacombs due to the superior firepower Farson brought with him. With all of Gilead either dead or burning, Roland made a pact with his few surviving friends to make things right again.
Battle on Jericho Hill
After the Fall of Gilead, Roland and his small team were nearly destroyed by the resulting Beam Quake. The Beam Quake sent Sheemie a psychic vision with the remaining Beams in human form showing him their dead brother due to the fall of Gilead. Upon learning this Roland realizes there was more at stake than Gilead itself or the World. The very Multiverse was in peril. Roland resolves to kill Farson and find The Dark Tower.
He begins by rebuilding a army and running a 9 year campaign against Farson’s forces. He frees towns, recruits the victims of Farson’s crimes, and trains everyone in the way of the Gunslinger. At the height of his campaign disaster struck again. Sheemie was kidnapped and a trusted scout revealed Roland’s encampment hidden at Jericho Hill.
Roland finds out about the traitor too late from Alain, who Roland and Cuthbert accidentally shoot during a small skirmish close to the camp. Alain who was ambushed early before, revealed the traitor and plans of the immediate attack on the encampment. Farson had already sent Marten and General Griswold to end Roland once and for all. Roland’s encampment on Jericho hill has a large cliff to the sea at its back. Griswold leads the army directly in front entrapping Roland and the Gunslingers. The Gunslingers are outnumbered a 100 to 1 against an army of crossbows, assault rifles, and poison blow dart wielding fanatics. 1 by 1 the Gunslingers are killed. Cuthbert being the last to die was shot through the eye by Marten with a crossbow arrow. Roland looses control and is in turn shot and knocked unconscious.
Roland would live however and climb from the pile of dead. Bleeding and wounded he decides the only way to set things right is to take control of the Dark Tower and make things right. He leaves behind the Horn of Gilead with his dead friend here as well which would play a key point in his reaching the Tower.
The Adventure Begins
After emerging alive from the bodies Roland discovers another of his Ka-tet still lives. Aileen is dying and wishes Roland to bury her with her Uncle Cort back in the ruins of Gilead. Roland travels back to Gilead. During his travel befriends a Billy Bumbler whose master had been murdered during the fight for Gilead. Later that day Roland is ambushed by Invisible Not Men who kill Aleen with a poison dart. Thanks to the Billy Bumbler senses Roland is able to shoot down the Not Men.
After reaching Gilead and laying Aileen to rest Roland begins to scavenge what he could. He encounters Slow Mutants in a fight with a family of Billy Bumblers and guns the Mutants down. He was then visited by the Ghost of Hax the Cook. After a flashback of past events with the cook Roland and his Billy Bumbler friend continue on.
They then arrived in the Town of Kingston which is having problems with Invisible Not Men as well. Girls are kidnapped at night and go missing. One girl name Susan who Roland was staying the night with was kidnap in front of him. He tracks her down to the Not Men hideout and proceeds to free the girls and kill all in his way. Susan was missing from the rest as she ran outside during the commotion. Roland runs after her to save her. The Not Man chasing her in the woods and catches Susan. When he tries to harm her the Billy Bumbler attacks him and buys her the time needed for Roland and the now armed women to catch up and kill him, but not before the Billy Bumbler is impaled on a tree. Roland comforts the loyal creature till it dies. He makes love to this Susan who looks so much like Susan Delgado before leaving for his Dark Tower.
Little Sisters of Eluria
After Roland's adventure against the Not-Men, he entered a town called Eluria. There he was first attacked and nearly killed by mutated people known as the Green Men, but was 'rescued' by a group of seeming gentle nuns called the Little Sister of Eluria, let by head Sister, Sister Mary. They seemingly nurtured him back to health, but thanks to John Norman, a cowboy who had suffered a similar fate, he soon learned that they intended to feed on him as soon as he was recovered. Luckily for Roland, he had picked up a Cross of "the man named Jesus" (of course referring to Jesus Christ) witch he found in the town of Eluria before he was attacked. The Cross belonged to John Norman's brother, whom died while fighting the Green Men in Eluria. He had putt it around his neck for good luck, but it also managed to keep the Sisters from coming to close to him whenever the sing of Jesus was visible. However, plans where made to make sure the Sisters could feet off of Roland. He was kept week by poison in his food and could not move at all. The situation seemed hopeless until one of the Sisters, Sister Jenna turned out to still be a good person. She had only joined the Sister years later, and at first did not know of their evil nature. Sister Jenna was turned into a vampire-like creature ass well, but remained pure at heart and managed to help Roland get better through weeds witch nullified the effects of the poison. She even told him that she wanted to help him escape. Roland's friend John was however killed by the Sisters not long before Roland managed to escape . Sister Jenna knew that time was of the essence and helped Roland escape, killing 1 of her Sisters in the process. She told Roland that she was in love with him and wanted to finally leave this evil place, knowing full well the consequences. A proof of Sister Jenna's pure soul was seen that, even though she had become a vampire-like creature, she could withstand holding the Jesus Cross for some time. Making their escape, Sister Jenna and Roland met the other 3 sister witch they managed to get away from, but Sister Mary was hot on their tail. Sister Mary found the two and was ready for the kill when suddenly a dog, wearing the Same Jesus Cross turned up and bit of Sister Mary's head. After that Roland and Sister Jenna fled as far as they could. They rested on a hilltop, where Jenna asked Roland to kiss her. Being a Nun, she had never been kissed before, and so, while clumsy, the two shared their first kiss as lovers. Jenna told Roland that she was happy to have felt true love before her end. Roland didn't think much of her "before the end" sentence, and so, the two of them rested at the top of a hill until the sun came up. Roland was dreaming, and heard a scream, but not in his dreams alone. When he woke up, Sister Jenna was gone, save her close. She had seemed to evaporate into thin air. However, the bells she had been wearing around her head where still ringing. And though said, Roland knew that Sister Jenna was in a better place. The whole long road to his next destination Roland could hear the bells ringing, looking behind, but never seeing a soul, knowing it was Jenna whom woke over him.
Battle of Tull
For more information see: Dark Tower: The Gunslinger - The Battle of Tull
In his quest for the Man in Black, Roland crosses a town named Tull. He soon finds out, thanks to a bar-maiden named Allie, that the Man in Black in fact went by the town. He had resurrected a dead man and had impregnated the town's female religious speaker, telling that woman that Roland was the Devil and that Roland wanted to kill her child, which would be the Lord's child. Roland asked Allie more questions about the Man in Black. Allie was a beautiful woman, but she had a huge scar on the left side of her face. Therefore, almost nobody wanted to touch her. Allie asked Roland to bed with her in trade for more information she had about the Man in Black. Roland agreed, and even after the two had 'exchanged' their trade, the two stayed friends and lovers. Allie now told Roland that the Man in Black had come to their town, and besides reviving a dead person, he also gave Allie a 'gift'. If she would ever say the number '19' out loud, she would know the truth about the dead returning to life, and the secrets of the afterlife. He also told her that her mind would not be able to contain that much information and it would drive her mad. Allie thought about the number since that time, but refused to say it. However, the whole town of Tull was a death-trap set up against Roland. The Man in Black had set up all the townspeople of Tull in hope of killing Roland. During this time, Allie could no longer withstand the urge and said the word nineteen out loud. While the townspeople where chasing Roland, Allie was captured and used a shield, so that Roland would not be able to shoot at the other townspeople. Allie however told Roland that she had said the number out loud and pleased her to shoot her. Roland, in cold blood, then killed her. The townspeople where even more angered then before and started chasing Roland while he tried to escape. The whole town was now after him, and while Roland tried to stop them without hurting them, they kept coming. Eventually, it became a massacre, in witch Roland killed every single person in town with his guns. This highly disturbed adventure left Roland changed and scarred forever. After the fight, he packed his bags and left Tull, now a ghost town.
The Way Station
Powers and Abilities
As a Gunslinger, Roland's weapons of choice are two large revolver pistols, similar to a .45 revolver.
Roland has super-human accuracy and speed when firing and aiming a pistol. many times in the Novels and Comics his Hand Speed is too fast for human thought and reloads with supernatural speed as well. In the revised edition of The Gunslinger, it describes Roland's act of emptying his revolvers and reloading them with shells on his ammo belt as being too fast for the human eye to clearly follow. His accuracy is like wise super-human in going as far as shoot from the hip in rapid shots and sniping with his revolvers from impossible distance.
Roland also has expertise in tracking, attention to detail, survival skills, hunting, living of the land, gun smithing, riddles, the arcane, the supernatural, and train heavily in the art of war.
Roland can also hypnotize people under controlled settings by twirling one of his shell casings in between his fingers, though this power is rarely used.
Roland's pistols were cast from Arthur of Eld's sword, imbuing them with mystical powers of their own. They are referred to in the Dark Tower being able to kill immortal beings. However the undead like Grandfathers and Type One Vampires have proven to be already dead and a exception to the rule.
Roland is, after all, just a man and is not immune to the nature of the world. His biggest limitations being the fact he dislikes magic and any sort of witchcraft and later loses two fingers on his left hand making it impossible for him to hold two guns at once. he also ages many years after The Gunslinger which brought about Arthritis.
The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger (Revised)
The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. So begins Book I of Stephen King’s iconic fantasy series, The Dark Tower. Part sci-fi novel, part futuristic dystopia, part spaghetti Western, and part high fantasy vision, The Gunslinger tells the story of Roland Deschain, Mid-World’s last gunslinger, who is tracking an enigmatic magician known only as the man in black. Following his quarry across the demon-infested Mohaine Desert, Roland confronts a mad preacher woman and her murderous flock, holds palaver with a speaking demon, and finally befriends a young boy from our world named Jake Chambers. Jake joins Roland on his quest, but while Roland travels with his young companion Jake, the man in black travels with Roland’s soul in his pocket. The 2003 revised edition of The Gunslinger contains the essay "On Being Nineteen (And a few other things)" by Stephen.
The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
After his final confrontation with the Man in Black in a remote mountain Golgotha, an exhausted Roland awakes on the beach of the Western Sea and is immediately attacked by a shoreline monster known as a lobstrosity. Roland kills the clawed creature, but not before it bites off two of his fingers and half of one big toe. Fighting off the delirium brought on by the lobstrosity’s poison, Roland forces himself along the beach where he discovers three freestanding doorways that lead into our world. The first opens onto New York, 1987, and the mind of a heroin addict called Eddie Dean. The second leads to 1964 and the divided personality of Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker, an African American woman who has lost the bottom half of her legs but gained a second, psychotic self. The third door leads to 1977 and the mind of a psychopath called The Pusher, the very criminal responsible for Odetta’s injuries. Roland’s task is to make Eddie and Odetta into gunslingers before raging Detta destroys them all, and before the Pusher can continue his bloody killing spree.
The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
Several months have passed, and Roland’s two new tet-mates have become proficient gunslingers. Eddie Dean has given up heroin, and Odetta’s two selves have joined, becoming the stronger and more balanced personality of Susannah Dean. But while battling The Pusher in 1977 New York, Roland altered ka by saving the life of Jake Chambers, a boy who—in Roland’s where and when—has already died. Now Roland and Jake exist in different worlds, but they are joined by the same madness: the paradox of double memories. Roland, Susannah, and Eddie must draw Jake into Mid-World then follow the Path of the Beam all the way to the Dark Tower. But nothing is easy in Mid-World. Along the way our tet stumbles into the ruined city of Lud, and are caught between the warring gangs of the Pubes and the Grays. The only way out of Lud is to wake Blaine the Mono, an insane train that has a passion for riddling, and for suicidal journeys.
The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Jake’s pet bumbler survive Blaine the Mono’s final crash, only to find themselves stranded in an alternate version of Topeka, Kansas, one that has been ravaged by the superflu virus. While following the deserted I-70 toward a distant glass palace, they hear the atonal squalling of a thinny, a place where the fabric of existence has almost entirely worn away. While camping near the edge of the thinny, Roland tells his ka-tet a story about another thinny, one that he encountered when he was little more than a boy. Over the course of one long magical night, Roland transports us to the Mid-World of long-ago and a seaside town called Hambry, where Roland fell in love with a girl named Susan Delgado, and where he and his old tet-mates Alain and Cuthbert battled the forces of John Farson, the harrier who—with a little help from a seeing sphere called Maerlyn’s Grapefruit—ignited Mid-World’s final war.
The Dark Tower IV.V: The Wind Through the Keyhole
Although it is officially the eighth book of the Dark Tower saga, Stephen King likes to call The Wind Through the Keyhole book 4.5 of the series, since it takes place after our tet escapes the Green Palace at the end of Wizard and Glass, and before they reach Calla Bryn Sturgis, setting for Wolves of the Calla. The Wind Through the Keyhole is a story within a story within a story. At the outset, Roland and his American tet are traveling toward the River Whye in Mid-World. A great storm, called a Starkblast, is about to blow. While our tet is sheltering from the storm, Roland tells a story about his younger days, when he and his tet-mate Jamie DeCurry were sent to Debaria to investigate reports of a skin-man, a kind of dangerous shape-changer. While trying to comfort a young boy named Bill Streeter—the only survivor of a particularly brutal attack by the skin-man, and Roland’s only witness to the crime—Roland recounts yet another story. This time it is a sinister fairytale drawn from the book Magic Tales of Eld. The three stories are woven together by the freezing, howling winds of the Starkblast.
The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
Roland and his tet have just returned to the path of the Beam when they discover that they are being followed by a group of inexperienced trackers. The trackers are from the town of Calla Bryn Sturgis, and they desperately need the help of gunslingers. Once every generation, a band of masked riders known as the Wolves gallop out of the dark land of Thunderclap to steal one half of all the twins born in the Callas. When the children are returned, they are roont, or mentally and physically ruined. In less than a month, the Wolves will raid again. In exchange for Roland’s aid, Father Callahan—a priest originally from our world—offers to give Roland a powerful but evil seeing sphere, a sinister globe called Black Thirteen which he has hidden below the floorboards of his church. Not only must Roland and his tet discover a way to defeat the invincible Wolves, but they must also return to New Yorks so that they can save our world’s incarnation of the Dark Tower from the machinations of the evil Sombra Corporation.
The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah
The Wolves have been defeated, but our tet faces yet another catastrophe. Susannah Dean’s body has been usurped by a demon named Mia who wants to use Susannah’s mortal form to bear a demon child. Stealing Black Thirteen, Mia has traveled through the Unfound Door to 1999 New York where she plans to give birth to her chap, a child born of two mothers and two fathers who will grow up to be Roland’s nemesis. With the help of the time-traveling Manni, Roland and Eddie plan to follow Susannah while Father Callahan and Jake will find Calvin Tower, owner of the vacant lot where a magical rose grows: a rose that must be saved at all costs. But despite our ka-tet’s intentions, ka has its own plans. Jake, Callahan, and Jake’s bumbler companion are transported to New York to follow Susannah, while Eddie and Roland are tumbled into East Stoneham, Maine, where they are greeted by Eddie’s old enemy, the gangster Balazar. But it isn’t just bullets that Roland and Eddie must brave. Soon they will meet their maker, in the form of a young author named Stephen King.
The Dark Tower VII
At the outset of the final installment of our saga, Roland’s ka-tet is scattered across several different wheres and whens. Susannah Dean (still in the clutches of the demon Mia) is in End-World’s Fedic Dogan: a chamber of horrors where magic and technology can be merged and where a monstrous half-human child can be brought forth into the world. Eddie Dean and Roland Deschain are in Maine, 1977, searching for the site of otherworldly walk-in activity, and a possible doorway back to Mid-World. Jake Chambers, Father Callahan, and the bumbler Oy are battling vampires and low men in New York’s Dixie Pig Restaurant, circa 1999, a place where long pig is definitely on the menu. As soon as our tet reunites, they must journey to the headquarters of Thunderclap’s Wolves in order to discover exactly why the Crimson King’s minions have been culling the brains of young children for twin-telepathy enzymes. The answer is more horrible than they realized, and bears directly upon Roland’s quest to reach the Dark Tower.
Little Sisters of Eluria (Short Story)
“The Little Sisters of Eluria” is a prequel to the first volume of the Dark Tower saga. Roland’s beloved city of Gilead has fallen to the Good Man’s forces, and the Gunslingers have been slaughtered at the Battle of Jericho Hill. Roland is now a lone wanderer, searching for the trail of the elusive sorcerer known as the Man in Black. On a hot day during the season of Full Earth, Roland enters a deserted town in the Desatoya Mountains. The town is called Eluria, and it is empty except for a lame dog, a drowned boy, and the eerie sound of tinkling silver bells. As Roland searches for the town’s missing inhabitants, he is attacked by the slow mutants known as the Green Folk. Our unconscious hero is rescued by an itinerant band of female healers who call themselves the Little Sisters of Eluria. But Roland’s rescuers are not what they seem, and our gunslinger must fight their narcotic potions to stay awake, and alive.